A trio of epic miniseries have been released on DVD this week, along with the latest box set of "Mystery Science Theater" spoofs and the final season of "Mannix."
"Titanic: Blood & Steel" (Lionsgate, 2012, three discs, $29.98, 12 episodes, featurettes). The latest approach to the tragedy of the Titanic is this cable miniseries about the events leading up to the building of the ship, its ups and downs during a lengthy construction process, and, of course, its fateful maiden voyage.
Lavishly produced with a capable cast on-board (Derek Jacobi, Chris Noth, Neve Campbell, Kevin Zegers, Alessandra Mastronardi), this melodrama holds interest if not rapt attention, but those who are looking for historical detail will be disappointed as many liberties are taken. Still, it's an entertaining story told from a different perspective, leaving us at the end to ponder what the fates might be of the many characters on display. (Also on Blu-ray, $29.97.)
"World Without End" (Sony/Blu-ray, 2010, two discs, $75.99, eight episodes, featurette). This ambitious period miniseries is based on the Ken Follett novel of the same title, a follow-up to his "The Pillars of the Earth," set 150 years later in the same fictional English town. It is now the 1300s and as the Hundred Years War rages with France, the peasantry of Kingsbridge are facing the pandemic known as the Black Death. Not bad, though fans of the book may be dismayed at the many diversions it takes from Follett's story. Among the cast are Miranda Richardson, Cynthia Nixon, Ben Chaplin and Peter Firth. (Also on DVD, $65.99.)
"Shaka Zulu" (A&E, 1986, four discs, $49.95, 10 episodes, featurette). This story of the 19th-century Zulu king from his boyhood in exile to the struggle to regain his throne during the emergence of British colonialism reveals a flawed, sometimes brutal protagonist who organized his followers into a warrior people. Henry Cele is quite good in the title role, with support from such British stalwarts as Robert Powell, Edward Fox, Trevor Howard and Christopher Lee. (It features quite a lot of female nudity, which is, of course, authentic to the time and place.)
"Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXV" (Shout! 1990-97, four discs, $59.97, four episodes, introductions, featurettes; four mini-posters). Joel, Mike and Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot mock four more classically bad movies in this collection of episodes: "Robot Holocaust" (1986), "Operation Big Brother" (1967), "Kitten With a Whip" (1967) and "Revenge of the Creature" (1955).
"Mannix: The Final Season" (CBS/Paramount, 1974-75, six discs, $54.99, 24 episodes). Among the cases investigated by the L.A. detective (Mike Connors) and his gal Friday (Peggy Fair) for this eighth and final season are a South American assassination plot, a homemade torture chamber and a missing corpse. Guests include Tom Selleck, Katherine Helmond, Scatman Crothers, Erik Estrada, Gerald McRaney, Dabney Coleman and Bill Bixby.
"Eastbound & Down: The Complete Third Season" (HBO, 2012, two discs, eight episodes). Danny McBride returns as the crude down-and-out former baseball pitcher Kenny Powers, this season relocating to Myrtle Beach, S.C., where he tries to resurrect his career with a minor-league local team. Will Ferrell and Matthew McConaughey reprise their characters and other guests include Lily Tomlin, Don Johnson, Jason Sudeikis and Seth Rogan, among others.
"World Series Champions: Official 2012 World Series Film" (MLB/A&E/Blu-ray, 2012, two discs, $29.95, complete NLCS Game 7, featurettes). Giants fans will enjoy this documentary that gathers the highlights of San Francisco's four-game sweep against the Detroit Tigers. (Also on Blu-ray, $34.95)
"MLB All-Time Bloopers" (MLB/A&E, 2012, $14.95). The title tells it all for this "best-of" collection of baseball bungles.Comment on this story
"Ancient Aliens: Collector's Edition" (History, 2009-12, 13 discs, $99.95, 42 episodes). This set collects the first four seasons of the documentary series that explores "evidence" gathered in support of Erich von Daniken's theories from his 1986 book "Chariots of the Gods," suggesting that visiting aliens built landing strips in Peru, constructed the pyramids, etc.
"The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show: The Complete Animated Series" (Warner Archive, 1983-85, two discs, $29.95, 18 episodes). This is the animated '80s show that featured all the Peanuts gang in a series of short skits, all cute and some quite amusing. (Available at WarnerArchive.com)
"Saban's Power Rangers: Super Samurai: The Complete Season" (Lionsgate/Blu-ray, 2012, three discs, $39.99, 20 episodes, music videos). These episodes are from the series currently running on the Nickelodeon cable channel, with new weapons and villains.